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Multiple Myeloma 

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Multiple myeloma begins with an abnormal plasma cell in your bone marrow—the tissue that fills in the center of most of your bones.

What is multiple myeloma?

Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that starts in the plasma cells (the white blood cell-producing cells that make antibodies) of bone marrow. Tumors that form in the solid bone as a result of multiple myeloma can damage bone and make it difficult for the bone marrow to make normal red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

Who develops multiple myeloma?

Risk factors for multiple myeloma include:

  • being African-American
  • being male
  • being obese or overweight
  • being over age 50; most people are diagnosed in their 60s
  • having a history of monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS), a condition that triggers an overgrowth of plasma cells
  • radiation exposure
  • working in certain oil-related professions

What are the symptoms of multiple myeloma?

Symptoms of multiple myeloma may mimic other health conditions, so it’s important to get checked out by your physician if you’re experiencing any of the following:

  • anemia (which can cause repeated infections, shortness of breath, fatigue and abnormal bleeding)
  • fevers with no known cause
  • weakness in arms or legs
  • bone pain in the ribs or back
  • easy bruising or bleeding

How is multiple myeloma diagnosed?

Blood tests are often used to diagnose the disease, including albumin and calcium levels; bone X-rays and bone density testing can determine the health of the bone. A bone marrow biopsy may be needed.

How is multiple myeloma treated?

Treatment options may include chemotherapy, stem cell transplantation and radiation therapy.
 
To learn more about cancer services at The Daniel and Gloria Blumenthal Cancer Center, call 201-634-5339.

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